Summer solstice

The summer solstice or estival solstice, also known as midsummer, occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). For that hemisphere, the summer solstice is when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and is the day with the longest period of daylight. Within the Arctic circle (for the northern hemisphere) or Antarctic circle (for the southern hemisphere), there is continuous daylight around the summer solstice. On the summer solstice, Earth's maximum axial tilt toward the Sun is 23.44°. Likewise, the Sun's declination from the celestial equator is 23.44°.

The summer solstice occurs during summer. This is the June solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the December solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs sometime between June 20 and June 22 in the Northern Hemisphere and between December 20 and December 23 in the Southern Hemisphere. The same dates in the opposite hemisphere are referred to as the winter solstice.

Since prehistory, the summer solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals. Traditionally, in many temperate regions (especially Europe), the summer solstice is seen as the middle of summer and referred to as "midsummer". Today, however, in some countries and calendars it is seen as the beginning of summer.


Although the summer solstice is the longest day of the year for that hemisphere, the dates of earliest sunrise and latest sunset vary by a few days. This is because the Earth orbits the Sun in an ellipse, and its orbital speed varies slightly during the year.

Although the Sun appears at its highest altitude from the viewpoint of an observer in outer space or a terrestrial observer outside tropical latitudes, the highest altitude occurs on a different day for certain locations in the tropics, specifically those where the Sun is directly overhead (maximum 90 degrees elevation) at the subsolar point. This day occurs twice each year for all locations between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn because the overhead Sun appears to cross a given latitude once before the day of the solstice and once afterward. For example, Lahaina Noon occurs in May and July in Hawaii. See solstice article. For all observers, the apparent position of the noon Sun is at its most northerly point on the June solstice and most southerly on the December solstice.

Full moon

2016 was the first time in nearly 70 years that a full moon and the Northern Hemisphere's summer solstice occurred on the same day. The 2016 summer solstice's full moon rose just as the Sun set.

Cultural aspects

The significance given to the summer solstice has varied among cultures, but most recognize the event in some way with holidays, festivals, and rituals around that time with themes of religion or fertility. In some regions, the summer solstice is seen as the beginning of summer and the end of spring. In other cultural conventions, the solstice is closer to the middle of summer.Solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (Sun) and sistere (to stand still).



  • Midsummer
  • Dragon Boat Festival (East Asia)
  • Christmas typically marks the southern summer solstice.
  • Day of Private Reflection (Northern Ireland)
  • Juhannus (Finland)
  • Jāņi (Latvia)
  • National Aboriginal Day (Canada)
  • Tiregān (Iran)
  • Fremont Solstice Parade (Fremont, Seattle, Washington, United States)
  • Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Parade (Santa Barbara, California, United States)
  • International Surfing Day
  • International Yoga Day
  • Fête de la Musique, also known as World Music Day

    Winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere

  • Inti Raymi, Machu Picchu, Peru
  • We Tripantu, (Mapuche, southern Chile)
  • Willkakuti, an Andean-Amazonic New Year (Aymara)

    Length of the day on the summer solstice of the north

    Length of day increases from the equator towards the North Pole in the Northern Hemisphere in June (around the summer solstice there), but decreases towards the South Pole in the Southern Hemisphere at the time of the southern winter solstice.